After a four-month legal dispute, the frozen body of infamous cult leader Charles Manson will soon be removed from the custody of the Kern County coroner's office and given to his grandson.
Or will it?
A county court commissioner ruled Monday that Jason Freeman, Manson's grandson, should get the body as he is "the surviving competent adult next of kin."
But a county attorney said Tuesday he's been contacted by an agent representing Matthew Lentz, a purported son of Manson, who is seeking to contact another alleged son of the notorious criminal to appeal the order and stop the county from handing over the body as they continue to argue their claim.
No paperwork had been filed as of Tuesday to appeal the commissioner's ruling, but Deputy County Counsel Bryan C. Walters said it remains a possibility.
"It's not over until it's over," he said.
Manson is currently being held under a fictitious name at a long-term facility in Kern County. Walters said the county's biggest concern is that photos of the body could be leaked out, and steps have been taken to prevent that.
He said the county intends to have Manson in a locked body bag when given to the grandson. Once that happens, it's up to Freeman to care for the remains.
Walters said the only other case regarding disposition of a body that's been drawn out anywhere near this long involved a son and daughter who couldn't come to an agreement on how to dispose of a body of a parent. The Health and Safety Code, however, has a hierarchy on who's next in line to receive a body if there's a dispute among relatives.
"Usually this is pretty clear cut," Walters said. "There's either a spouse or child. It's usually not so complicated."
The county made initial preparations to have Manson's body in its custody for up to six months due to his notoriety and the expectation that multiple people would seek his remains.
Manson has remained a fascinating, disturbing figure in the history of crime after convincing his followers to commit grisly killings over two nights in 1969.
His followers killed pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others at Tate's home on Aug. 9, 1969, then killed grocers Leno and Rosemary LaBianca the following evening.
Dale Kiken, Freeman's attorney, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Neither could Daniel Mortensen, the attorney representing Michael Brunner, an alleged son of Manson who also sought the remains.
Brunner's claim to the body was rejected in part because he was adopted decades ago back when Manson faced death instead of life without parole, according to Court Commissioner Alisa R. Knight's ruling.
Lentz, the other purported son, failed to provide any documentation showing he's Manson's son. He also didn't provide DNA evidence.
And Lentz, like Brunner, was also adopted, in his case when he was 1 week old.
"Adoption therefore cuts off his claim as a matter of law," Knight wrote in the ruling.
Also seeking the body was Michael Channels, a longtime pen pal of Manson who claimed Manson left him his estate and his remains in a will. Knight, however, noted part of the will submitted to the court is illegible, and there's ambiguity regarding what Manson intended.
Freeman posted a Facebook Live video Tuesday morning in which he says anyone who wants to argue a claim to Manson's body is free to file paperwork in court and challenge him. But he said he wants the opportunity to lay his grandfather to rest.
"I've paid for my wrongs, so has my grandfather," he said.